As I mentioned in my post about internet connections in the Philippines, I always recommend that you have a wireless data connection either as a primary or backup internet connection.
There are three main providers of wireless data plans in the Philippines – Globe, Smart, and Sun. I talk more about it in this post. But to summarize, I recommend Globe for prepaid and Smart for postpaid.
This post will focus more on the options you have when it comes to the devices you use to access wireless data. However, I do want to reiterate that you should make your decision primarily based on which provider has stronger signal in your area, not based on devices. We need the internet for work, so reliability is of primary importance.
In regards to devices, you have three options. USB dongles, mobile hotspots (pocket wifi), or mobile phones with hotspot capability. I’ll talk about each one below:
USB Dongles for wireless data
USB Dongles are devices that you plug into the USB slot of your computer/laptop and allow that computer to access the internet. The benefit of doing using USB dongles is that they don’t require external power. Since they plug right into your computer’s USB port, you don’t need to charge them.
However, most USB dongles don’t allow internet sharing. That means that only the device that it’s plugged into will get internet – so you can’t share the connection with other laptops, phones, or tablets.
Each service provider has their own USB dongles available. Here are the prices and links to them:
Smart P3888 (with one week free data worth P300)
I don’t understand why there’s such a big price discrepancy. Based on device price alone, Globe comes out as the winner here.
Mobile Hotspots (Pocket Wifi) for wireless data
Mobile hotspots allow multiple devices to connect to a shared data connection. This means that your phone, tablet, and your boyfriend/girlfriend’s laptop can also share your connection. Most mobile hotspots are also battery powered, allowing you to use it without having to plug-in.
Take note, however, that battery life is usually horrible on these devices with you being lucky if you can get two hours worth of battery life. On the good side, you can actually plug it into your laptop’s USB port and use it while it’s charging.
Here are links to the two main mobile hotspots available:
Smart P2000 (with some free data)
USB sticks vs Mobile Hotspots
If you’re trying to select which of the two types of devices to buy, there’s not much of a competition here. Mobile hotspots are the easy choice. Their main con – them having short battery life – is easily remedied by plugging them in to your computer. VS USB sticks they can share the connection with multiple devices, and you can use them without having to plug-in. I guess you could say that them requiring a cable to plug-in to your laptop is a con, but that’s about it.
However, my choice is none of the two devices…
I’d rather go ahead and use my
Mobile Phones with Hotspot capabilities in the Philippines
Like I mentioned in another blog post, I like just having one device that can do multiple things. My mobile phone lets me do amazing things. From checking emails, messaging clients, managing tasks, and sharing my data connection with my laptop. Calls and texts probably comprise less than 5% of what I actually use my ‘phone’ for.
I also like the fact that I only have to load one device (or pay one bill). Having to make sure two devices have load is a hassle I’d rather do without. And since my phone lets me share data, it solves that problem.
The phone I use is the Oppo F1. I chose it mainly because it had really fast internet connections to all the major data providers in the Philippines (and Asia, for that matter). It doesn’t hurt that it only cost P12,000 ($250) and had decent specs too.
To get technical, what you should be looking for in a mobile phone (if you want fast internet) are the different 3G and LTE radios for Globe and Smart (and Sun?). These radios let your phone receive data at higher speeds on your phone and when you share your connection with your computer.
Globe and Smart 3G and LTE radio frequencies:
|LTE||Bands 1, 3, 5||Bands 3, 7, 41|
So, optimally, you’d choose a phone that had all the above radios. Most of the flagship (expensive) phones have the required radios – the iPhone 6s, the Galaxy S7.
But for those who don’t like spending P30,000 on phones (like me), I’ve created an easy chart with all the budget phones (under P15,000) that have the frequencies for both Globe and Smart. [thrive_link color=’blue’ link=” target=’_self’ size=’medium’ align=”]Get the Budget Cellphone Hotspot Guide[/thrive_link]
Get an Oppo F1. The end.
Post-edit: I didn’t know the Nexus 5x was available in the Philippines. :/ Get that instead.
But seriously, I recommend getting a phone as your mobile internet device. One device, one bill. But if you absolutely MUST get another device, get a Mobile Hotspot (Pocket Wifi). If you still don’t want to listen to me – do what you want. Whatever.